President's Message

The power of pro bono: ABA day of service helps legal profession make 'justice for all' a reality

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Paulette Brown

Photo of ABA President Paulette Brown by Marc Hauser.

The legal profession has a strong tradition of service. No other profession provides more pro bono aid to those in need than ours.

A powerful demonstration of lawyers' commitment to volunteer legal services will take place during the American Bar Association's annual weeklong National Celebration of Pro Bono later this month. During the seven years since the celebration was established, thousands of lawyers in communities across the country have volunteered their services to help people of limited means. This year's celebration will take place October 25-31.

Pro bono events during the celebration are sponsored by bar associations, law firms, corporate law departments, law schools, legal aid providers and public service organizations in nearly every state. Volunteers help individuals with legal issues involving housing, family law, domestic violence, immigration, veterans' assistance and so much more.

This year, we'll increase participation to the highest level ever by introducing a daylong signature event on October 30—"And Justice for All: An ABA Day of Service." We want you to stand with us in this effort.

Like the weeklong celebration, "And Justice for All: An ABA Day of Service" will show the nation that lawyers matter, that we are making a positive difference and that we are committed to serving others. Our new event will promote friendly competition among lawyers to increase the amount of pro bono service we provide. Throughout the week, we will recognize the valuable pro bono contributions made by lawyers across the country through an honor roll and a social media campaign. Please share your news and photos of pro bono events using the hashtag #ABAdayofservice.

Although national in scope, "And Justice for All: An ABA Day of Service" will provide an opportunity for local legal organizations to highlight their efforts on the ground to volunteer legal services to those who need them most. The work of pro bono lawyers who take on cases without charge for the public good has been a powerful force for progress and equality in the United States, and we can always do more.

The national celebration and day of service complement the ABA's ongoing support for pro bono. Our Model Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 encourages lawyers to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services per year. The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service—sponsor of the National Celebration of Pro Bono—provides national leadership in policy, outreach and technical assistance to encourage, expand and improve pro bono activities and programs.

We are proud to showcase the great difference pro bono lawyers make. I urge all lawyers to participate in the National Celebration of Pro Bono and "And Justice for All: An ABA Day of Service." Please learn more by visiting, which offers planning guides, a page for groups to register their events, and an interactive map showing pro bono celebration events across the country and the world.

Your law degree is so much more than a piece of paper. It is power. And lawyers know that with power comes great responsibility. With your participation we will improve our profession and advance the rule of law, while making our pledge of justice for all a reality.

Follow President Brown on Twitter at @Brown4Lawyers.

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